Skip to main content
Prospective Students

Current Students Project List

Class of 2017 Project List

Class of 2017

PhD Candidate: Abdalla Abou Jaoude, MSE   
Advisor: Anna Erickson

Replaceable Matrix Fuel (RMF) enables the recycling of nuclear fuel instead of disposing it as ‘waste’ in expensive geological repositories. Because they are already emission-free, nuclear reactors using this fuel will be more environmentally friendly and stronger candidates to tackle global warming. Using the RMF will solve the security challenges associated with advanced reactors and will provide a unique opportunity for pioneering electric utilities around the world.

PhD Candidate: Zack Deckner, Biology     
AdvisorYury Chernoff

Proteins in the body can incorrectly fold and accumulate to cause disease. These proteins are called amyloids and are associated with incurable neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, and Parkinson’s. Due to the complexity of these diseases, previous animal models have been unsuccessful in identifying therapeutic compounds. Our research simulates these amyloids inside yeast, making it a useful tool for drug discovery. Our assay is designed to assess how efficiently compounds can stall or prevent these proteins from misfolding, allowing us to identify viable drug candidates for these diseases.

PhD Candidate: Kayla DesPortes, Human Centered Computing
AdvisorBetsy DiSalvo

The computing and engineering fields have an under representation of females and minorities. This research attempts to broaden their participation through design and innovation of educational technologies. These educational tools enable students to design and build digitally enhanced, tangible projects for prototyping circuits and visualizing the electrical signals within them. Designing from a socio-cultural perspective allows us to develop technology that provides students with new opportunities and possibilities within the field of computer science and electrical engineering.  

PhD Candidate: Aaron Enten, Bioengineering
AdvisorTodd Sulchek

Diagnostics, drug delivery, and other biomedical industries rely on the separation of the core constituents of blood. This technique can shed insight on diseases, can be used to prepare samples, and can impact lives in emergency healthcare decisions. In this field, timing and availability of samples are critical. This research will enable portable, rapid separation of blood without external power, allowing for earlier diagnosis and creating a profound impact on patient lives.

PhD Candidate: James Hallam, College of Architecture/Industrial Design
AdvisorJim Budd

Recovery from a stroke poses a significant challenge for patients in treatment, both due to the difficulty of the rehabilitation process and the effects of the emotional and social strain following the injury. A common outcome of a stroke is the weakening of half of the other side of the body. This can result in a loss of sensation and strength in the hand, affecting daily tasks. Recent research has highlighted the potential of using the unaffected hand to train the hand affected by the stroke. This project has developed a therapeutic glove that is capable of sending stimuli from one hand to the other. Using the glove to perform therapeutic exercises at home may speed the time to recovery, and help patients regain hand function and independence.

PhD Candidate: Caroline Hansen, Chemistry and Biochemistry
AdvisorWilbur Lam

Normal blood clotting is often insufficient in stopping significant blood loss and preventing patient death after a traumatic injury. This is especially problematic for non-compressible injuries (internal bleeding), where current clinical treatments to enhance blood clotting require delivery to the entire blood system. This can  increase the risk for unwanted clotting and could result in a heart attack or stroke. This research is developing a drug delivery technology to target and release clot promoting drugs immediately to the site of the injury, thereby decreasing the risk of hemorrhage and fatal side effects.

PhD Candidate: Chris Oberste, Materials Science and Engineering
AdvisorBen Wang

The use of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (composites) is expected to grow dramatically in the automotive, aerospace, and wind turbine sectors over the next 5 years. Current composite manufacturing methods suffer from several inherent limitations which make it difficult to optimize the reinforcement of the composite. This research project, MAGIC (Manufacturing of Additively Generated Interlaced Composites) seeks to enable the formation of composites with optimized reinforcements by bridging the gap between 3D printing and existing composite manufacturing methods. This technology combines 3D printing and weaving technologies to form woven composites with controllable internal variation of strength and stiffness.

PhD Candidate: Matt Smith, Materials Science and Engineering
AdvisorBaratunde Cola

As electronic systems continue to grow smaller and more powerful, heat removal has become increasingly difficult. Thermal interface materials are used to cool electronics, but traditional thermal interface materials have limited thermal conductivity and poor mechanical properties. This research project is focused on making soft materials with enhanced thermal conductivity to replace traditional thermal interface materials. These improvements in thermal management increase electronic device performance and lifetime, potentially impacting industries spanning biotechnology to energy harvesting.

PhD Candidate: Cheng Zhang, College of Computing
AdvisorGregory Abowd

Many wearable devices (e.g. smartwatches, wristbands) are coming rapidly into our lives. Compared with traditional computing devices (e.g. laptop), wearable devices are directly attached to the human skin. This difference allows the wearable devices to capture the signals on the human body. This project is exploring how the human body propagates acoustic signals which are generated explicitly by wearable devices. It presents a new way to communicate between human-bodies or even between human-body to the environment which brings a more natural and secure way to communicate information. Other health, user identification, and novel interactions are potential applications that could be explored as well. 

Class of 2016

PhD Candidate: Jim Benson, MSE   
Advisor: Gleb Yushin

Access to clean drinking water is increasingly relying on water treatment and desalination to support major populations and provide water security. This research develops nanocomposite supercapacitor materials to remove salt and heavy metal ions from water sources producing affordable fresh drinking water. Improvements in the materials for capacitive deionization open the desalination market to low cost, portable systems and allow treatment of higher salt content water sources. This research will reduce the cost of electrochemical desalination by increasing the salt absorption capacity and the rate of desalination.

Adhesion based purification of stem cell populations

PhD Candidate: Efrain Cermeno, Bioengineering    
Advisor: Andres Garcia

Stem cells are important tools for research and therapeutic applications. However, the maintenance of pure stem cell populations is challenging. When used therapeutically, impure stem cell populations can result in tumor formation. This research focuses on utilizing microfluidic devices to purify stem cell populations based on differences in attachment strength. This technology is distinct from current methods as it allows for fast purification (<10min) of cells with high yield, purity, and survival (>95%), which is not possible with current methods of purification.

PhD Candidate: Robert Demont, Chemistry and Biochemistry 
Advisor: MG Finn

The current approach to creating vaccines is to enhance the ability of the immune system to recognize and respond to weakened forms of the targeted disease. This approach for creating novel and more efficient vaccines uses the addition of chemical irritants administered with the vaccine fragments.  Our lab is developing virus-like chemistries to offer a new, more effective product into the marketplace that allows investigators a simple, modular way to enhance immune response to various fragments of disease.

PhD Candidate: Max Hill, Nuclear Engineering
Advisor: Weston Stacey

SABR is a fusion-fission hybrid nuclear reactor concept that uses neutrons produced in fusion to safely destroy harmful nuclear waste from traditional nuclear reactors. Despite its novel nature, the current SABR design is quite conservative and relies on technology that has already been demonstrated or will be demonstrated in the next 10-years. This reactor has the potential to significantly reduce or eliminate the need for long-term nuclear waste repositories like Yucca Mountain while simultaneously producing electricity.

PhD Candidate: Billy Kihei, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisors: John Copeland, Yusun Chang

As Vehicle-2-Vehicle communications (V2V) receives growing interest from both public and private stakeholders in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), the connected vehicle industry will emerge as a fast growing market.  With safety as the main priority, advanced collision avoidance systems integrated onto newer vehicles with active sensor technology (InfraRed, LIDAR, Millimeter Wave Radar) and V2V communication radios will be ubiquitous.  This research seeks to provide a cost effective vertical integration of collision avoidance devices, using the V2V radio as an active sensor simultaneously.

Electrical stimulation for modulation of major internal organ functions

PhD Candidate: Yogi Patel, BioEngineering
Advisor: Robert Butera

The peripheral nervous system carries information to/from the brain, organs, and muscles and can be electrically stimulated to modulate neural activity. Our lab has previously developed a method for selectively inhibiting neural activity in subsets of peripheral nerves. This research focuses on applying this technique to modulate activity of visceral organs for control of blood glucose levels.

PhD Candidate: Tyler Nelson, Bioengineering 
Advisor: J. Brandon Dixon

Lymphedema is a disease that causes extreme swelling of the arms and legs of survivors across a wide variety of cancers. There are no early stage lymphedema diagnostics on the market and, as a result, therapies are started after the disfiguring and debilitating swelling has become permanent. We have developed the first lymphatic pressure measurement system, similar to a blood pressure measurement, enabling early disease detection. This will drastically improve patient outcomes by allowing treatment to be started as early as possible.

PhD Candidate: Gordon Waller, Materials Science and Engineering 
Advisor: Meilin Liu

Lithium-ion batteries are the state-of-the-art in energy storage technologies used in devices ranging from portable electronics to electric vehicles. Emerging large format applications (e.g. grid storage for renewable energy sources) will dramatically increase the demand for lithium-ion batteries, but adoption is still limited by the high cost of materials. This research has developed a technique for producing high performance nanostructured lithium ion batteries using naturally abundant raw materials and streamlined electrode processing to greatly reduce battery manufacturing costs.

Class of 2015 Project List


Class of 2014


Post Doc: Sivakkumar (Shiva) Arjunon, Biomedical Engineering   
Advisors: Ajit Yoganathan and Matthew Paden

Design, fabrication and testing of a kidney dysfunction support device for newborns and critically ill children. There is no such device approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and thus, adult devices are unsafely adapted by clinicians. These adult-devices operate with unsafe volumes of blood as it filters the blood outside the body. The KIDS device addresses this issue by using a novel fluid management system, providing both accuracy and significantly reduced blood demand from the patient.

PhD Candidate: Pavithra Chandramowlishwaran, Biology   
Advisor: Yury Chernoff

Research which establishes a yeast-based assay for studying the amyloidogenic properties of proteins involved in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, type II diabetes etc. We intend to develop the model into test-assays for development of therapeutic or prophylactic treatments for amyloidosis. The mechanism of amyloid (misfolded protein) formation by mammalian proteins in yeast follows the same rules as those occurring in mammals, confirming that initial amyloid nucleation is based on similar or overlapping molecular mechanisms in different systems.

PhD Candidate: Nathan Evans, Material Science & Engineering   
Advisor: Ken Gall

PhD Candidate: Brennan Torstrick, Mechanical Engineering   
Advisor: Robert Guldberg

Modification of a hard plastic material (PEEK) with a thin porous layer to enhance integration of load bearing orthopaedic implants.  This modification has the potential to replace current metallic and non-porous PEEK implants by offering high strength, imaging compatibility and strong fixation.

Post Doc: Laxminarayanan Krishnan, Bioengineering and Biosciences   
Advisor: Dr. Robert E. Guldberg

Research goals are to understand the interactions between inflammation, age, method of delivery, and dose of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), in the healing of large bone defects, and to modulate the native inflammatory response to improve regeneration. The emphasis of my work is on the delivery of high doses of BMP2 while limiting the associated adverse effects. Strategies like functional electrospun membranes, to deliver modulatory agents for spatiotemporal control of bone formation, will have immediate clinical applicability.

Next-Generation Nano-Scale Fabrication Technology

PhD Candidate: Matthieu Leibovici, Electrical and Computer Engineering   
Advisor: Thomas Gaylord

Periodic structures at the nano-scale level underpin future development in numerous critical areas including nanoelectronics, HD displays, solar cells, cancer diagnostics, and tissue regrowth. To address the current lack of an inexpensive technique to fabricate these structures, a totally new technology (PIIL - patents pending) is now being developed in the Georgia Tech Optics Laboratory that is applicable to all of these areas.

PhD Candidate: Kin Lo, Chemistry & Biochemistry    
Advisor: John Reynolds

This research designs polymeric materials that are used in organic electronic applications. To achieve low cost, fast processing speed and large area deposition, common industrial printing and coating techniques are used to process these readily-solubilized organic materials. The materials are primarily designed for light-weight and low cost photovoltaics; other applications, including organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, transistors, and sensors, are also explored.

PhD Candidate: Swetha Srinivasan, Biology   
Advisor: Fredrik Vannberg

Research involves engineering naturally occurring nanoparticles called exosomes to carry molecules of interest and deliver them to target tissues. This technology can be used to deliver therapeutics for nervous system disorders which have no cure to date. The versatility of this technique makes it an ideal candidate for personalized medicine.

PhD Candidate: Akil Syed, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering   
Advisors: Pradeep Agrawal, Carsten Sievers

Research is aimed at making use of abundant and renewable biomass waste, sugarcane bagasse, to produce Syngas economically and reliably. Syngas can then be used, using already commercialized technologies, to produce electricity or transformed into liquid transportation fuels or chemicals-thus reducing excessive dependence on crude oil and also mitigating greenhouse emissions.

Replaceable Matrix Fuel (RMF) recycles waste of nuclear reactors